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Tourette Syndrome

Updated: May 28, 2021

Written by Sophia Jin

What is Tourette Syndrome?:

Tourette syndrome is a type of disorder that is characterized by tics. Tics are sudden repeated movements or sounds, and those who experience tics cannot stop them from happening. Similar to a hiccup, tics are involuntary and hard to control. Tics are categorized into two types, motor and vocal. Some examples of motor tics include head shaking, shoulder shrugging, arm jerking, and some examples of vocal tics include coughing, yelling out, clearing the throat, and whistling. Tourette Syndrome is diagnosed when a patient has both motor and vocal tics that occur several times a day, every day, or irregularly for at least one year.

The exact cause of Tourette’s is unclear, but research suggests that it is an inherited genetic condition. The diagnosis of Tourette’s is usually linked to symptoms of tics, and the first symptoms that usually appear are motor tics in the head or neck area at an early age (5-10) years old.

Often, tics are triggered or worsened under heavier emotions, such as excitement or anxiety, or physically through barriers such as tight collars. In many cases, those diagnosed with Tourette syndrome may have other disorders such as ADHD, OCD, or anxiety.


Many people with Tourette's do not require treatment, however, those who have tics that cause stress, pain, and interfere with daily life, may seek treatment. Medications, behavioral therapy, habit reversal, Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) are all possible treatments. There is no cure for Tourette's but these treatments can help people deal with tics.

Life with Tourette Syndrome:

Those with Tourette’s have a higher risk of being bullied. Be understanding and explain to others that those with TS cannot control tics (if they suppress them they will eventually arise later and may hurt more), that there are many triggers that can worsen tics (such as heavy emotions and physical feelings), and that those dealing with TS may also be dealing with other mental health issues.


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